Latest Developments, January 18


In the latest news and analysis…

H-2 eligibility
The Associated Press reports that the US government has decided for the first time to include Haiti in a program that would allow some low-skilled workers to obtain temporary visas.
“U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services announced Tuesday that Haiti was among more than 55 countries eligible for the H-2A and H-2B visas.
Both Florida senators and six U.S. representatives from the state last month asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to extend the visas to Haiti. The Florida delegation said money sent home by Haitians with those visas was vital to the Caribbean country’s ongoing efforts to recover from a catastrophic earthquake in 2010.”

The C word
The Guardian reports on the escalating tensions between London and Buenos Aires that saw British Prime Minister David Cameron accuse Argentina of holding a “colonialist attitude” toward the Falkland Islands, a longtime British colony.
“Hector Timerman, [Argentina’s] foreign minister, described Britain as ‘a synonym for colonialism.’ He was quoted by Reuters as saying: ‘Evidently at a time when only scraps of colonialism linger, Great Britain … has decided to rewrite history.’ ”

The war within
Former US secretary of labour Robert Reich argues the current “crisis of capitalism” is the result of a lopsided conflict between consumers and investors on the one hand, and workers and citizens on the other.
“And since most of us occupy all four roles, the real crisis centres on the increasing efficiency by which we as consumers and investors can get great deals, and our declining capacity to be heard as workers and citizens.

As a result, consumers and investors are doing increasingly well but job insecurity is on the rise, inequality is widening, communities are becoming less stable and climate change is worsening. None of this is sustainable over the long term but no one has yet figured out a way to get capitalism back into balance. Blame global finance and worldwide corporations all you want. But save some of your blame for the insatiable consumers and investors inhabiting almost every one of us, who are entirely complicit.”

Irreconcilable differences
The Overseas Development Institute’s Claire Melamed argues the current consensus over bringing development and environment agendas closer together may be short-lived.
“But there is a danger to this approach – exemplified in the call for SDGs to also tackle ‘sustainable consumption and production patterns’.  This gets to the heart of what makes the whole issue of sustainability so politically toxic.  Sustainable consumption patterns would almost certainly mean some people on the planet consuming less so others could consume more.  Similarly on production – if developing countries are going to grow, and if technology doesn’t ride to the rescue, it’s at least possible that ‘sustainable’ might mean the rich world producing less.”

Immoral economy
Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs argues there are four ways in which self-interest, which is the very foundation of capitalism, “fails to support the common good.”
“Second, it can easily turn into unacceptable inequality. The reasons are legion: luck; aptitude; inheritance; winner-takes-all-markets; fraud; and perhaps most insidiously, the conversion of wealth into power, in order to gain even greater wealth.
Third, self-interest leaves future generations at the mercy of today’s generation. Environmental unsustainability is a gross inequality of wellbeing across generations rather than across social classes.”

Misguided journey
The University of Ottawa’s Nipa Banerjee gives a harsh assessment of the state of the international development industry in the wake of last month’s summit in Busan.
“The pre-Busan evaluations and Busan discussions clearly reflect a misguided journey of the Western-centric donors who are running the wheels of a self-serving aid industry. While some of the non-traditional non-Eurocentric donors, such as China, Brazil, and India, represented themselves in Busan, they took rather low-profile positions, with none officially joining the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, in endorsement of the self-reproducing development support industries. Most of these new donors had once been roped into a monstrous global aid industry and well experienced the fruitlessness of spending time in delving into reams of paperwork, policy papers, development programming, and evaluations, nursing the illusions of effective aid.”

Multilateral failures
Writer James Denselow reviews a pair of new books on global revolution, including the latest by Carne Ross whom he describes as a former diplomat “transformed into a thinking man’s neo-anarchist.”
“The nation-state represents an archaic and ill-fitting answer to multifaceted non-localized issues, brought on by the pressures of globalisation and climate change. From flu-epidemics, to the spread of rioting, he carefully plots the ways in which our interconnectedness has led to problems which require global cooperation to solve. Yet the best efforts at multilateral cooperation have yet to deliver the answers. Ross parallels the enormous rhetoric of the 2005 G8’s promise to ‘make poverty history’ with the reality of its ‘utter failure’ to do so with a shortfall in pledges of $20 billion.”

Blue helmet blues
The Inter Press Service speaks to a number of experts about the evolving role of UN peacekeeping and the reputational hits such missions have taken in recent years.
“ ‘In the Congo, the U.N. is not exactly neutral, going after militias on behalf of the government,’ says Sean Maloney, a professor at the Royal Military College in Kingston Ontario.

Maloney told IPS the impartial style of peacekeeping as represented by Canadians serving as U.N. soldiers and keeping armed Greek and Turkish-speaking people at bay in Cyprus in the 1970s was rendered ‘obsolete’ starting in the 1990s.
‘We are going to see more interventions. They will be more coercion-style interventions (like the NATO mission in Afghanistan where Canada had upwards of 3,000 soldiers) that will be siding with one side or another,’ adds Maloney, describing himself as pro-military and ‘libertarian’.”